I would not be unique in saying how much I love Kate DiCamillo, or Sophie Blackall. I have a Sophie Blackall print hanging in our condo that I first saw when riding a subway in New York. It features a quirky group of subway riders including two nuns sharing headphones, a guy in a bear costume, a woman holding a fiddle leaf fig, and a guy playing an accordion.
I just love her sensibility, and I like to think how Kate must have swooned to have her illustrate The Beatryce Prophecy, to “illuminate” it and give it life.
The first DiCamillo Book I read was The Tale of Despereaux and I loved the voice and the quirkiness and how it talked about darkness and light, good and evil, wrapped up in a great story with unforgettable characters. I’ll never forget her description of poor, beaten Mig’s “cauliflower ears.” The Beatryce Prophecy is also quirky with great characters. There’s a goat that strikes fear in the heart of grown men and a mute girl, there’s a mystery that needs solving, and underneath it all there’s something deeper going on. What’s the importance of prophecies, and what can change the world? This book talks about the importance of stories, of reading, of words, of using your voice, of power and laying down your power.
I picked up this book at the perfect time, when I had the time to read it all in a couple of big gulps on a few gray days. I read it as I’m approaching a writing project of my own, puzzling how to intertwine the bones of plot with the tendons and sinew of theme and purpose and things that matter. DiCamillo does it so, so well.